Parachutist free-falling from a Gipsy Moth over Christchurch: Picturing Canterbury

Parachutist free-falling from a Gipsy Moth over Christchurch [196-?]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0034.
The ZK-AAW was a Gypsy Moth which belonged to the Canterbury Aero Club and was used to train pilots. In 1933 it was used as a support plane for a parachute drop performed by “Scotty” Frazer. In 1935, while being flown by J.J. Busch on a return flight from Rangiora to the Wigram aerodrome, it was damaged when it crashed in Ohoka. While being repaired it was repainted with the colours of the aero club, red for the fuselage and black for the undercarriage and engine cowling. The ZK-AAW suffered further damage in 1936 when it crash landed in a paddock at Eveline and collided with a gorse hedge.

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Parachutist Free-falling From A Gipsy Moth Over Christchurch

Searching for Aroha – an early New Zealand aviator

On 20 June 1928  the Canterbury Aero Club was formed. Our timeline mentions “The first pilot trained by the club was a woman, Aroha Clifford. She may have been New Zealand’s first woman pilot.”

I had never heard of Aroha Clifford so I went looking. Papers Past reveals an astonishing story as it unfolds in articles from the late 1920s and early 1930s – her keen pursuit of flight, and her father’s desire to keep her on the ground.

The NZ Truth article Eve takes to the air reports “… to Miss Aroha Clifford, daughter of Mr Walter Clifford, and niece of Sir George, goes the honor of being the first-aero, club trained woman to pilot a ‘plane solo”.

The New Zealand Film Archive has newsreel footage of Aroha and mentions “Clifford had plans to fly from England to Australia and bought an Avro Avian in England for that very purpose. However, because of her father’s opposition she was forced to abandon this ambition”.

The book Silver Wings: New Zealand women in aviation features more information on Aroha.

The tragic coda to the story is it seems Aroha died in childbirth, and her son died in a farming accident at the age of two. Haere ra Aroha.

Aroha Clifford
Aroha Clifford. Ref: EP-0628-1/2-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22823723

Search Digital NZ for more on Aroha Clifford.

Searching for Aroha – an early New Zealand aviator

CoverOur Christchurch timeline is a neat guide to Today in history. I noticed that today – Monday 20 June  – in 1928  the Canterbury Aero Club was formed. It mentions “The first pilot trained by the club was a woman, Aroha Clifford. She may have been New Zealand’s first woman pilot.”

I had never heard of Aroha Clifford before so I did a search using The SourcePapers Past reveals an astonishing story as it unfolds in articles from the late 1920s and early 1930s – her keen pursuit of flight, and her father’s desire to keep her on the ground.

The NZ Truth article Eve takes to the air reports “… to Miss Aroha Clifford, daughter of Mr Walter Clifford, and niece of Sir George, goes the honor of being the first-aero, club trained woman to pilot a ‘plane solo”. The New Zealand Film Archive has newsreel footage of Aroha and mentions “Clifford had plans to fly from England to Australia and bought an Avro Avian in England for that very purpose. However, because of her father’s opposition she was forced to abandon this ambition”.

The book Silver Wings: New Zealand women in aviation features more information on Aroha.

The tragic coda to the story is it seems Aroha died in childbirth, and her son died in a farming accident at the age of two.

I’m feeling quite moved by these little glimpses into her life and it makes me think: Have you discovered any unsung heroes or heroines of New Zealand’s past – maybe in your own whanau?

Aroha Clifford, woman pilot (image from Pātaka Ipurangi – Palmerston North)
Aroha Clifford
Aroha Clifford. Ref: EP-0628-1/2-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22823723

Search Digital NZ for more on Aroha Clifford.

Image of the Week

“Parachutist free-falling from a Gipsy Moth over Christchurch”

Parachutist free-falling from a Gipsy Moth over Christchurch

This plane is a De Havilland DH60 Gipsy Moth, registration ZK-AAW, which was given to the Canterbury Aero Club by the Government. Its first flight was on February 1, 1930, with Bert Mercer, the first instructor of the Aero Club, at the controls. The plane had two accidents and was written off in 1936.

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